Friday, 15 November 2013

Perhaps one of the most select pieces of art work in the world.

Surely, this is one art gallery only the hardiest of travellers, will ever see...
If you had 5 months to spare, 30 tonnes of paint and enjoyed being creative when the temperatures rise into the 50's, degrees C that is! What would you paint?  In 1989 Jean Verame used the huge natural 'amphitheatre' of magnificent rocks around Ehi Kourne a few miles outside of Bardai, some miles north of the Tibesti Mountains in northern Chad, due south of Libya.  Using a spray gun, the blessing of the Chadian President and some helpers one would imagine, he turned a selection of khaki sandstone rocks into a kaleidoscope of colours from a gorgeous deep blue, spectacular purple, coral pink, to a crisp carbon black and snowy white.

The spectacular blue is now only visible beneath some of the small stones that make up several of the more individual pieces of patterned stone work but the huge rocks and boulders the core of the image remain.  Shades of ghostly whites and pink for all to see, despite 34 years of searing sun, freezing winter nights and the driving blasts of the Harmattan sands.  These strangely beautiful set of rocks may have lost their virginal crispness but they have gained the weathered beauty, the patina of age, their mystique is perhaps barely noticed by locals and yet is admired by a handful of tourists that journey each year through this remote region through one of the world's incredible art galleries. I wonder how long though Jean's art will last?

'Down the road' south of Bardai are some rock carvings, scratched into the soft sandstone,  a leagacy of times past, showing animals that are no longer seen in this neck of the woods, elephants, leopards and cattle. Despite billions of gallons of water hiding below the desert surface, this is now a world where only date palms, and the hardiest of animals survive Addax, Dorcas and Rhim gazelles to name a few. These carvings are found all over the Sahara in the soft sandstone, an eternal parchment telling tales of times past, of changed climates of perhaps happier times. All are unsigned, many are hundreds, some thousands  of years old.

I wonder what kind of legacy we will leave behind? Perhaps it will be a thing of beauty that will still be talked about 25 years on, or maybe like William Wilberforce, I saw a play about his life recently, it will be more enduring. 
I am on day 18 of a 42 day project reading Rick Warren's 'What on Earth am I here for ? (Zondervan 2013). It is thought provoking and one is reminded - What will I leave behind? What is my legacy? Ummm now that is food for thought.


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